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Phillies players were playing ‘Fortnite’ in clubhouse during games last year

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Jeff Passan of ESPN has a story this morning about the overhaul of the clubhouse culture Philadelphia Phillies for 2019. Why the need for the overhaul? Because last year guys were “doing their own thing.” The kind of thing they were doing: leaving the dugout during games to play “Fortnite.”

When Gabe Kapler told his guys to “get their grind on,” this was probably not what he had in mind.

The best part: when then-Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana saw this going down in the middle of a nine-game losing streak toward the end of last September he grabbed a bat, went into the clubhouse and smashed the TV to get his teammates to knock that crap off.

While it’s suggested in the story that this was not a common thing — guys did it maybe a couple of times — the incident itself is not denied by anyone, nor is the notion that, due to Gabe Kapler’s hands-off managerial style, players not paying attention to games was not uncommon. The rest of the story has Kapler, Jake Arrieta and others on the 2019 Phillies talking about how the club plans to approach things differently this season.

I realize it was the end of the year and that, within days of the incident all the players and beat writers went their separate ways, but I’m kinda shocked this wasn’t reported until now. Seems like the sort of thing that would get out. Oh well.

In other news, if the Rays continue to lowball Blake Snell going forward, you have to figure Philly would be on his short list:

 

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]